Chapter 3: Organizational Self Assessment

Chapter 3: Organizational Self Assessment

In the previous chapter, we summarized the steps in organizational mentoring, characteristics of a good mentor, and effective mentoring practices. In this chapter we cover organizational assessment as an important early step for informing capacity-building goals.

An organizational self-assessment is an analysis and evaluation by the organization’s leaders and stakeholders (e.g., board members, staff, volunteers, participants, key supporters) of the organization’s direction and capacity to meet its own goals. Through the process, leaders identify shared concerns and prioritize actions.

Guiding the Process

The assessment process can be guided in one of two ways:

  1. Through a facilitated discussion designed for the group with the support of a facilitator or mentor (link for a sample process framework.) This process is well-suited to small or emerging organizations who may have not engaged in capacity building efforts in the past.
  2. By using a tool designed for this purpose and adapted to the circumstances of the organization. The implementation of the tool and analysis of results also benefit from the support of an experienced facilitator.

Facilitated Discussion Purpose

An assessment conducted through a facilitated discussion is designed with the following purposes:

  • Make the assessment process accessible for the group, regardless of its stage of development.
  • Guide the group in reaching agreement about the long-term vision of the organization.
  • Identify how the board, staff and volunteers will be organized to fulfill the mission and realize the vision.
  • Determine what assets the organization can build upon and what challenges it will need to address, including internal capacity and resources, and external relationships and opportunities.
  • Develop an action plan for the steps the leaders will take to strengthen the organization and secure its future.

Strategic Questions

Strategic questions to ask include:

  • Who is your “community” – whom do you serve and engage?
  • How do you define achievement or success?
  • Vision for the Future – In Two Years:
    • Your organization will be…
    • Your organization will do …
    • How much do you want to grow?  In what way?
  • What are the key issues impacting the organization now?
  • Do you have the organizational and human resources necessary to realize your vision and fulfill your mission?
  • How is the work currently organized?
  • What else / more is needed?
  • What are your short-term goals? (2-3 years)
  • What steps will you be able to take to achieve your goals?
  • What other steps are needed but will need greater capacity to undertake?
  • What resources do you have to begin your journey? What else will you need?
  • Do you have community support?
  • Who are your supporters, partners and allies?

Chapter 4 will go into more detail about capacity improvement plans: creating, implementing, and monitoring plans with mentor support.

See the Mentor’s Toolbox for organizational assessment resources.